NG 900/9-3 Changing Manual Transmission

From The Saab Tech Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search


Tools Required

600lb Engine support beam with wind hook Set of metric sockets up to 18mm 1 deep 18mm socket (not absolutely necessary, but handy) Ball joint splitter Torque wrench Breaker bar with extension Set of metric Allen or Hex keys. You will need a 4mm Set of metric Allen or Hex sockets. You will need a 8mm 12, 13, 16, and 18mm Ring spanners Torx sockets (small) 2 hydraulic jacks Pair of Axle stands Tube of thread lock 1.8ltr of Transmission oil

Wood Sill Block


I had trouble with 1 of the 18mm sub frame bolts. The previous owner or mechanic had tried to do some work on the car and rounded off the bolt head! This bolt was well and truly dud and totally seized in its thread track. It had to have a truck 17mm thick walled socket welded to it and then the exhaust centre guys got a two-handled heavy airgun and wound the bolt out. It may be worth trying all your bolts to see if they will move before getting all your kit and parts together for the job ahead.

Undo bolts and pull pipe work that you never wished you had pulled or undone in the first place. Make yourself a couple of Sill blocks. You may be the home mechanic like myself without the luxury of a heated workshop and transmission jacks. This being the case then your beloved SAAB may be on those axle stands for a couple of days.

The sill is simply a folded steel weld that is very easily crushed by the hydraulic jack or other such lifting devices.

The Block is simply a 2" x 2" bit of rough cut timber with a groove for the sill seam to sit in and a bit removed from the bottom so it sits on the stands securely.

Torque Settings

Torque Settings
Sub Frame Front bolts (x2) 85lbft or 115Nm
Sub Frame Centre bolts (x2) 2140lbft or 190Nm
Sub Frame Rear bolts (x2) - Done in two stages
Stage 1 81lbft or 110 Nm
Stage 2 Tighten through a further 75 degrees

Rear Engine Mounting Nuts

29lbft or 39Nm

Front Engine Mounting ( 2 bolts and 1 nut)
(Bracket to transmission)

33lbft or 45Nm
Transmission -Drain and Refill Plugs 44lbft or 60N
Bell housing to block (x5) 51lbft or 70Nm
Selector Rod Pinch Bolt 15lbft or 20 Nm
Driveshaft Hub Nut 214lbft or 290Nm
Lower Ball Joint

55lbft or 75Nm


Part 1 - Jacking up the vehicle and removing the ancillary components

Once the two blocks are made you're ready to begin a duel to the death. Set your car where you want to work on it and place the transmission in 4th gear. Go round to the engine and remove the lock plug from the top of the transmission. Using a 4mm Allen or Hex key slip it into the hole what ever you use it must be 4mm and have someway of not slipping through the hole and into the nest of cogs that waits below. As the transmission in now locked slacken of the 13mm pinch bolt on the shifter linkage that is found by the bulkhead behind the transmission.

Rear Mount and Linkage

Inside the car lift the shifter boot exposing the unknowns of the shifter mount. You will see another hole in the rod and mount move the stick into 3rd gear and remember you don't have a gate the stick is now free pushing the stick forward line up the holes in the mount and rod drop another suitable 4mm item in there and we are ready to go.

Remove the clutch cable from the transmission lever arm

Loosen the Transmission side hub nut. No need to take it off for now.

Open the bonnet and remove the battery and the intercooler charge carrier pipe. These are not an absolute requirement but if you wish to fight around them so be it. Don't forget to block the pipe end and the throttle body inlet with clean cloth. No need to get anything unwanted into the engine.

Ancillary Items

Now move to jack up the car. Use a hydraulic jack placed under the hard points of the sub-frame. Go from the door side of the wheels face the jack towards the front of the car and pump away. Lift the car and use stands and the pre-cut blocks under the normal points you would use if changing a wheel. Remove the road wheels in turn so that the car's front is accessible all round.

Move under the car and remove the plastic shielding that is located directly under the bumper. This will come away easily with the removal of a few screws and small bolts. Now at the front sub-frame mount points. There are 2 bolts. Using a scribe or thin screwdriver score a line around the end of the sub frame this will be easy as cars are full of crap and grease this line will help you line up the frame before you tighten everything back into place.

Once all the above is complete, slacken off the 3 front pipe nuts that secure the pipe to the beloved turbo. Don't remove the nuts, as you will require the pipe to be held secure whilst you remove the rear joint on the pipe and the Lambda sensor. When removing the sensor first undo the torx bolt that holds the sensor wire. This will allow the sensor to be unscrewed from the pipe with out twisting the wire to the point of breakage.

Lambda Sensor

Move back under the car and split the clamp that holds the pipe to the rest of the system. Do not throw this clamp away I was told by the exhaust dealer that they are expensive and hard to come by. Don't worry about shearing the bolts on the clamp although it is better not to if possible use a blowtorch. Get the clamp to an exhaust dealer and ask them to refurbish it. They should clean it up and rethread the bolt holes and give you a couple of shiny new bolts. If they charge you for it then that would be harsh.

Intermediate Joint

Finally remove the cat support rubber this is located behind the engine you will see it no problem.

Catalytic Converter Rubber Support

Now find the lower transmission cover plate and remove it. The plate is held in place via 2 12mm bolts.

Lower Transmission Cover

Part 2 - Removal of the Sub-frame

The engine must now be braced. Remove the rubber grommet from the transmission end-lifting eye. Set-up your support beam and put in place. With my draper beam I did not need the chain I set the lifting hook directly in the eye on the engine. Only tighten the lifting thread don't let it take the weight of the engine yet.

Engine Support Beam Hook
Engine Support Beam

Place a hydraulic jack, with a plank of wood, under the sump. Pump the jack and, as you see the engine start to move, wind up the lifting hook. The brace now has the engine under tension. Remove the jack.

Engine Left

The sub-frame is very cumbersome. Using a 16mm socket, a breaker bar, and a blow-torch if things are seized, loosen the front 2 bolts on the frame

Subframe Diagram

Work back and do the same, using a standard 18mm socket for the mid pair and 16mm for the rear pair.

The final major connections on the frame are the lower ball joints and the rear engine mounts located centrally on the rear cross member of the sub-frame. These mount point consist of 2 18mm nuts set inside the frame hence the deep 18mm socket it made light work of reaching them both.

Now that the frame bolts are all moving, but not undone, place 2 hydraulic jacks under the frame and again pump until the jacks are touching the frame no need to lift anything.

The final connection can now be severed the lower ball joints using a big adjustable spanner a flat King dick style fit the jaws to the nuts and wiggle the spanner as you tighten the jaws so a very snug fit is reached. You really don't want to round of these nuts. I am using this age-old style of spanner, as I was unable to fit a ring on to the nut due to the drive shaft.

To be truthful I have always found this style of tool to be very honest if you use it correctly it will remove anything you want I have rarely used anything else on ball joints these spanners are big and there is a lot to get hold of so a lot of smooth pressure can be applied. Once the nut goes the joint should still be held tight undo the nut to the top of its thread you will not be able to remove the nut as the drive shaft is still present.

Note: If the hub nuts are off you can tap the driveshaft in a little, using a soft faced hammer, to allow access to the nut with a ring spanner. Alternatively use a 18mm open ended spanner. Tapping in the driveshaft also allows you to remove this nut. It is recommended that this nut and the hub nut be replaced as they are of the self locking type and should not be re-used.

Lower Ball Joint

With the jacks holding the frame in place and the engine braced securely. Begin to remove the frame bolts and nuts. Start at the front and work back. As you remove the rear mount bolts the engine may pivot backwards don't be alarmed, this is a great moment, the engine is now held in position by the brace you are half way there. Release a little pressure of the jacks on a slight drop and split the ball joints. Remove the nuts. Lower the frame. As the frame comes away drag it off the jacks and pull it from under the car.

Sub Frame

Examine the rear bolt mounts you are looking for 2 large spacer washers. These may be stuck to the under side of the car. Do not lose these washers. If they are stuck to the car wind in the bolts a little so that they stay where that are. I wound all my bolts and nuts back on to their corresponding points so that nothing of the wrong length went into the wrong hole!

Spacer Washers
Bolt and Spacer Washers

Take a break and return to the job after a well-earned cup of tea. All looks very different now and you will see the job to remove the transmission is really nothing more than a handful of bolts!

Working under the car remove the front engine mount. This is found on the transmission side corner of the engine bay. The mount is removed by undoing the 2 bolts and 2 nuts on one stud that are attached to the transmission casing. The stud holds an earth strap which is a direct connection to the battery. Remove the nut, remove the strap and then the actual nut that holds the mount.

Now slide further under the car below the drive shaft and look up you will see an electrical socket in the rear side of the transmission casing this is the reverse switch electrical connection we don't want to snap this as we drop the transmission so unhook the socket.

I did this job alone. If you have a mate with you who can watch all of this and check the shifter linkage doesn't get tangled with any other parts as it comes down. Then this would be a good idea as the linkage is quite fragile compared to the rest of the transmission.

Transmission Front Mount
Rear Mount and Linkage

At the end of this stage you need to have off the two major components, the sub frame and the front pipe.

Subframe and Downpipe

Looking under the car you should see this.

Everything Removed

Part 3 - Removal of the transmission

With the sub frame removed you can now use a 8mm hex key socket to remove the transmission drain plug and drain the transmission of oil. I have left this until now as the drain plug is an almighty pain to get to with the sub frame in place. The drain plug is found around the engine side drive shaft seal point. It is placed right up against the frame when all things are back in place lord knows what Saab use to remove it. Probably a very long handled short 'L' Hex key. After draining the oil refit the plug and tighten.

Starting in the engine bay remove the top 3 transmission bell housing bolts these are 16mm. Take them out and place them somewhere safe ,in the order they were removed. Don't worry about the starter motor you don't even need to think about it.

Now working under the car remove the side front bell housing bolt and then its opposite No. at the rear. The casing is now sitting on the remaining drive shaft and the transmission input shaft.

Now the fun begins. Remove the transmission side drive shaft hub nut and remove the outboard end from the hub. This will be easy as the lower ball joints are out of the way. Supporting the shaft on a hydraulic jack.

Driveshaft Supported by Jack

Let's return to our engine support beam. Using the winder, release the hook and begin to drop the engine don't worry as, due to the large hydraulic mount on the far side of the engine you have a superb pivot point. You really can wind the engine and transmission right down. The transmission may give the impression that it will simply slide off and hit the floor it will not believe me. Wind down the whole power unit until the drive shaft is Horizontal with the floor. You can see how low the transmission is by this view through the wheel arch

Transmission Lowered

and comparing the next picture to the earlier one.

Engine Lowered

Now you can remove the drive shaft if you like. I Used a broad bladed steel chisel, the sort used for splitting bricks, and moving to the inboard end of the shaft placed the blade between the inner casing and the transmission and cracked the chisel on its shaft in a levering motion so that you pop the inner circlip. I removed my shaft after getting the whole lot out in this manner but its up to you.

Don't hit the chisel as you would if you were using it normally you are hitting the chisel sideways so the blade pops the shaft. If you have got this far you will know what I mean.

Now we are in the world of the transmission. I did this job totally alone. You may be luckier.

You will need to place a jack under the transmission but place no pressure on the transmission at all. If you are still supporting the drive shaft pay that attention too and check that it is well placed on the jack.

Move around to the other wheel well and lay with your legs either side of the engine. Place your feet on the transmission casing where ever you can. The final drive point is good. Grab the car but not the axle stand, although it is temptingly in reach, and push with your feet. Slide the whole unit off the remaining drive shaft and the input shaft and it should just settle onto the jack.

Transmission on Hydraulic Jack

Remove the jacks from the unit and pull the whole transmission from under the car

Transmission Out of Car

So now you've got your transmission out what then?

Firstly if you're not fitting a new pressure plate or friction plate do not go messing with the centralisation of the plates. The plates are centred so save yourself hassle and leave well alone.

Pressure Plate

Well, my box came out because I blew reverse gear andit was easier to fit a new box than remove and repair the existing one. The most obvious reason for removing the transmission is to fit a new clutch. I took this opportunity and did fit a new three-piece kit. You may just be fitting a new release bearing or a new input shaft seal. Whatever the problem you have to do all this anyway.

A good thing to do with the transmission out is clean the inside of the bell housing and renew the release bearing. Clean and grease the bearing run but only a very light smear of grease. Also remove the clutch arm and clean and grease its mounting points. The difference in action will amaze you especially if a new plate kit is going on. Also undo the transmission top fill plug and just wind it back in it is very difficult to reach when the transmission is back in place.

Once your reason and job is over you need to refit the transmission. In the famous last words of a certain set of manuals we all love and know.


Part 1 - Refitting the Transmission

Refitting is the reversal of removal - hahaha.

We will go into more detail.

Before the refit it is a good idea to grease the input shaft with the correct grease for the job. Don't use any grease it is specific high temp grease and only a small amount is needed. You do not need grease getting into the friction plate!! You would have to go through all this again!!

As I said earlier I did this job alone, if you can you will need a mate now more than ever. You will need two hydraulic jacks or if your lucky you will own a transmission jack. You need to move the transmission under the car in a relative position.

Transmission Ready to Go Back In

Then if your car was only lifted as high as an extended pair of Axle stands like my 900 was you will need to lift, push and lift the transmission onto 1 jack and then a second that will support the bell housing. Set the jacks on their lowest point place the bell housing on a jack head and get it balanced then move a second jack which is close at hand and, using your hands, lift the bell housing end onto the second jack. Get them balanced and take a breather and look at what you have to do.

This entails using the drive shaft that is still in position as a target for the whole job that is ahead of you.

Using the bell-housing jack only. Very slowly raise the transmission until the final drive is in a relative position next to its drive shaft. Only use the other jack as a stabilising influence i.e. to stop the whole lot falling of. Again look at your job and then raise the other jack until all is aligned.

Remember your engine is still at a downward angle so you are not looking to raise the transmission up to the horizontal. Also beware of your input shaft inside the bell housing you don't want this too damage the springs on your possible new pressure plate as the transmission slides on.

When you are happy with the way it is lined up. Work the transmission onto the drive shaft, if this starts to go into position you are home. Visually check from all angles that you are happy with the position of the transmission and push it home as the input shaft reaches your friction plate it will pick up the teeth on the plate an then enter the flywheel. This should happen very smoothly due to the new grease on the shaft. Around the bolt holes on the bell housing there are dowels that align the housing with the engine block, these should all line up as you push the housing home.

Positioning Transmission
Transmission in Position

Place all the bolts into their corresponding holes and start to wind them in when all are in position tighten them in a diagonal sequence. This will place even fitting pressure on the housing to engine join.

Congratulations your transmission is back in place. Remove the jacks and let the engine support beam take the strain. Have a breather.

Now wind the engine beam and bring the engine and transmission back into position.

You will need to refit the front mount, which is still attached to the cars chassis. Use the 2 bolts and nuts not forgetting to reattach the battery earth strap. You may still need a jack just to quickly lift the whole engine easily if the mount holes will not line up. Once the front mount is bolted up leave the jack holding the engine and wind up the support beam so that the beam and not the jack is holding the engine in position. Remove the jack. Depending on whether you removed the rear mount or not you will have to reattach this also. Find the reverse electrical connector and refit this, it only goes in 1 way.

At this point you may wish to refit the drive shaft. You will need to support it. Do not let it hang from its inner joint in the transmission. A wire coat hanger hung from the suspension spring is always a good bet.

Part 2 - Refitting the sub frame

Again this is a cumbersome and physical job. Before you move the frame into position you need to check each of the two ball joints in case you have split the rubber in which case you will need a new lower arm as they are integral to each other *. Secondly each joint has a small clip sealing the rubber. Make sure that this is in position.

Note: The ball joint bellow kits are actually available as a spare. Part No. 8993867

Ball Joint

Move the sub frame into position under the car and bring in the ever-present 2 jacks. Pull the frame onto the jacks and balance it. What you are looking for is to align the lower ball joints if these go into place then the frame is loosely aligned.

Subframe In Place

As you begin the lift align the frame by pushing and pulling and fit the ball joints into the hub as you continue to pump the jacks each side separately. Do not drive the frame tight against the chassis, as you have to refit the spacer washers to the radius arm mount, which is the third and final bolt pair.

Rear Transmission Mount

As the ball joint comes through the hub spin on the nut. Don't do what I did bolt it up and then realise that you have to use a breaker bar to force the lower arms down so you can wind on a nut! Once the ball joints are in place refit the rear bolts that hold the spacer washers.

Transmission Spacer Washer

Move to the next mount point, which are the 18mm bolts. Then it is the 18mm nuts that bolt onto the rear engine mount. There is a steel cable that is fixed to the rear mount

Transmission Rear Mount

make sure that this is in the correct position if all is ok and you are happy with the position wind on the nuts but again not tight. Finally fit the front 16mm bolts and line up the frame with your score marks when ok tighten the front and work back the engine and transmission are now in place. Don't forget the ball joints! Take a look over our work if you are happy remove your engine support beam and your transmission is fitted. Refitting ancillary parts

Remove the 4mm hex key from the transmission lock hole realign the linkage by removing your other lock point in the shifter base pulling the shifter back in to 4th. Have a mate align the rod and clamp and tighten the 13mm pinch bolt to the linkage rod. Refit the flywheel lower plate using the two small bolts. Bring the front pipe into position and hang it from the cat rubber mount fit the front 3 nuts to the turbo exhaust flange and find your refurbished joint clamp using some exhaust sealant refit the two sections and tighten the front nuts. Refit the lambda sensor to the front pipe and tighten up the torx bolt that holds the lambda sensor wire clamp that is just above the pipe on the block.

Ok things are looking good. Time to refit the lower plastic panels under the front spoiler.

Refit the clutch cable or fit a new cable if you have no idea how old your present cable is. If you need some leverage use a breaker bar or a good piece of wood to push the plate arm forward and have a mate pull the cable firmly so the clutch pedal travels and the cable will hook the arm easily

Now fit the intercooler charge carrier pipe removing the cloth plugs that you place in the inlets and outlets to the throttle body etc.

Fit your vacuum hose to your dump valve. Then the battery goes on and go find your radio code and realise you never had it in the first place :-)

Refit the hub nut using lots of force and a deep suitable sized socket I think a 35mm. Refit the road wheels and let it all settle even though all things are tight go around the sub frame and torque up the bolts as specified by SAAB (See Below) and the same for the gearbox bell housing bolts. Don't forget during reassembly to use the thread lock fluid.

If some nuts or bolts are over tight loosen them off and re-torque. This torque is very important for the sub frame to rear radius mount has a 2 stage torque first in ft/lbs and then a further 75 degree turn to finalize the mount.

Jack up the car and remove the stands and sill blocks lower her to the ground.

Now go and get your new transmission oil and pour 1.8 litres into the transmission casing through the top fill plug.

Go and get yourself a large cigar and thoroughly enjoy it!!

Do you feel lucky? Clean up and take her for a spin and feel the efforts of your work. If the car feels good smile at the amount of money still in your pocket. I was quoted £350+vat for a clutch change.